Sally Gross - Updated Jun 2024

Updated On June 3, 2024
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Sally Gross

Sally Gross was an anti-apartheid and intersex activist from South Africa. Moreover, Sally Gross served as a mentor to intersex activists all over the world as a member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era and the founder of Intersex South Africa.

Early Life

Sally Gross was born on the 22nd of August 1953, in Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa. At the age of 60, she passed away and was a South African by nationality.  Moreover, she grew up in a Jewish family, classified as male, and named Selwyn Gross.

Despite being aware of her genital ambiguities, she was only formally diagnosed with an intersex variant in 1993, at the age of 40.  She was later classified as female. However, she did not share her parents, and siblings’ names in public till her death.


Gross passed away alone in her apartment in Cape Town on 14 February 2014, according to the Daily Maverick newspaper, “having been forced to appeal to friends for funds to pay rent and medical bills as her health deteriorated; she was virtually immobile.”

Moreover, she is a gentle and fearless activist. As well as a mentor, in obituaries issued by Organization Intersex International, Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Star Observer newspaper.

Education and Early Career

Gross was born into a Jewish family, followed Catholicism, and was baptized in early 1976.  On the suggestion of colleagues in the African National Congress. She left South Africa in May 1977, first to Botswana and then to Israel, where her parents had gone, before becoming a novitiate in the Dominican Order in Oxford, England, in 1981.

She was appointed as a deacon in “around 1985” and a priest in 1987, and afterward taught moral theology and ethics at Oxford’s Blackfriars. Moreover, she graduated from Oxford University with a master’s degree. She was a delegate at an ANC convention in Dakar, Senegal, led by Thabo Mbeki, in 1987.

Sally Gross

Caption: A tribute to Sally Gross (Source: The Feminist Wire)

The Dominicans approached her to teach in South Africa once the South African ban on the ANC was repealed in 1990. She acquired Israeli citizenship but lost her South African citizenship while in hiding, which she recovered in 1991.

In the early 1990s, she began to “discern and explore” concerns about her body and identity; she left the Dominican Order and went to Eastbourne, England. Her clerical position was removed a year later, and she felt herself no longer in communion with the Church. She eventually found spiritual solace in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Buddhism.

Her return to South Africa was delayed by a loss of citizenship during the apartheid era, as well as a gender transition.  After being issued a passport with a male sex descriptor in 1991, her demands for a passport with a female sex descriptor were sent through the South African Home Affairs and Health Departments.

She Gross called the notion of “genital “disambiguation” surgery “immoral.” Based on the incorrect original classification, she eventually gets a passport and a birth certificate with female sex markers.

Intersex activism

Gross was one of the founding members of Intersex South Africa, an autonomous intersex community organization associated with the Organization Intersex International.

In 2000, she obtained the first known mention of intersex in national law, with the inclusion of “intersex” under the definition of “sex” in the Republic of South Africa’s anti-discrimination statute. She has since assisted in the formulation of laws on the Alteration of Sex Descriptors and the Promotion of Equality.

Sally Gross

Caption: Sally Gross photo (Source: Intersection)

She is a public speaker on intersex topics, and she was interviewed by the BBC World Service in September 2009 on intersex and the Caster Semenya controversy. In April 2013, she was featured in a video for It Gets Better South Africa.

Moreover, she also appeared in the documentary Intersexion and attended the inaugural International Intersex Forum in 2011. She presented a lecture titled “Not in God’s Image: Intersex, Social Death, and Infanticide” via Skype to the Manchester University Religion. Likewise, in Civil Society Network’s conference on Intersex, Theology, and the Bible in March 2013.


During her career, Sally Gross was an anti-apartheid and intersex activist. But, she did not earn any kinds of awards or honors in her career.

Sally Gross – Net Worth 2023

During her lifetime, Sally Gross raised her voice for anti-apartheid and intersex. However, there is no exact detail regarding her income, earnings, and net worth.

Relationship Status

Regarding her personal life, there is not much detail available at the moment. She spent most of her time raising her voice and advocating intersex activities till the time of her death. However, she seems single and unmarried til the time of her death. And there is no information when comes her personal life.

Sally Gross – Body Measurements

Talking about her physical appearance, Sally Gross has dark brown hair with blue eyes color and is a glass. However, there is no exact detail available regarding her height, weight, and other body stats.

Social Media

This South African activist is no more in this world. Due to this, Gross is not active on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.